Educational Movie

The Hidden Heroine

There is no denying that the poetry and white space in “The Assassin Nie Yinniang” has given the film a unique mood, but it is this white space that has caused the most controversy. Too much has been said online about the film’s poetic white space, historical evidence, and anti-narrative expressions, so I will try to use a different approach to discuss only two points.One is to watch, not to image. A film, is to see how the director induces the audience’s gaze, which is the root of visual art. We are always talking about the art of so-called acting, thematic ideas, filming techniques, storyline, and rarely pursue the “viewing”, we always say: this director shot really great ah! But the core secret of cinema is not all in the shooting method, every breakthrough in the history of cinema actually starts from watching: Lumière saw the train coming in, Georges Méliès saw the smiling face of the moon, Fellini saw the people walking in the distance, Hitchcock saw the stairs and shadows, Spielberg saw the depths of human good and evil, James Cameron saw the unknown world, Nolan saw the fifth dimension, and Hou Hsiao-hsien What Hou Hsiao-hsien saw was the bleakness of people in time and space.

Hou Hsiao-hsien once said: comedy, tragedy, or martial arts drama, I think these are all forms, the most important thing is still people. Sometimes you come across a person, this person is very comical, but behind him is actually very bleak. I am particularly sensitive to people, whether they are assassins or chivalrous, they are all about man versus man, man versus the weak, which is the basis of “The Assassin Nie Yinniang”.

When Hou Hsiao-hsien sees the love of human beings on the vertical axis of historical time, a great sadness between heaven and earth also arises, blood and heartlessness, compassion and doubt, moment and eternity, human and nature are twins in his film, but he does not want to tell you in a didactic way, but let you feel and poke the window paper between this twin intention. Although many people are criticizing his filming method, like a bridge built without piers to support it, those images that in his opinion are detrimental to the feeling have to be cut. I think a movie does not exist for everyone, but only for the audience who can understand it; and not everyone is qualified or necessary to see it. When you have already reserved the energy to fit with it and match it, it will present itself in your life. So when you really enter Nie Yinnian’s world and feel the wind blowing, the cicadas chirping, the water flowing, the clouds and the mist, you will find that the history and the plot are no longer important. Instead, you experience the desolation of Nie Yinniang in the space between heaven and earth, which is what Hou Hsiao-Hsien wants us to see. This is what Hou Hsiao-hsien wants us to see. His realistic writing ends with a long and rhythmic writing.

The second is emotion. I think the most direct emotional theme expressed in “The Assassin Nie Yinniang” is loneliness! It is everywhere in the flow of light and shadow: in Nie Yinniang’s sharp eyes, in Tian Ji’an’s weary expression, in Tian Yuan’s poignant cold smile, in Princess Dao’s cold murderous aura… It can also be felt in the sluggish wind, in the drifting clouds, in the waving candle flame, in the brimming water, in the dark cave, and even in the tranquil paradise.

Why do I say that Nie Yinniang was an orphan? She left her parents at a very young age, and on the surface, having grown up without parental care and discipline, she is equivalent to an orphan. What is more important is that she chose to return to her home, from the time she was forced to leave her home, to the time she returned, to the time she chose to leave, a process of re-cognizing herself, facing herself, and living out her own life. The essence is to walk away from the group, from the system, from the norms. Nie Yinniang uses her identity as an assassin to truly go to the periphery of the masses to observe in secret and look back at her own situation. As the old saying goes, “If you are a teacher for a day, you will be a father for life. And she chooses to confront the Taoist nun master who raised her, which is a big move to subvert patriarchal power. This reminds me of the scene when I was a child watching “The Gods” in which Nezha cut his flesh to return his father and bones to return his mother, a role that has been controversial because he was a lonely runaway under the traditional system of “filial piety”. Although they end up differently, they both have the commonality of being “orphans” who pursue personal liberation, freedom, self-awakening in solitude, and independent thinking and rebellious spirit.

I think Hou Hsiao-hsien really wants to criticize the culture of Confucianism’s “relative ethics” and promote the philosophical thought of Taoist Zhuangzi’s “to be alone with the spirit of heaven and earth”, which is the most perfect state for a person to live in dialogue with heaven and earth and the universe, rather than with people. But unfortunately, Zhuangzi’s thought could not become orthodox after all, and Nie Yinniang eventually chose to return to seclusion, just like the political frustration of the movers and shakers in history who went to the mountains and waters for some kind of spiritual dash, and did not form a complete atmosphere of the times.

Hou Hsiao-hsien’s loneliness is full, resolute, and joyful, and it took him ten years from preparation to completion of “The Assassin Nie Yinniang”. Nie Yinniang is an “orphan” in this beautiful world, and has no peers. This is actually like Hou Hsiao-hsien himself, who has made so many films, but basically he is an individual without peers, because he doesn’t care how other people shoot, and he doesn’t care what the current market is, as long as he has a view of the world, he will shoot, and he will keep shooting.

In fact, loneliness is always part of our spiritual life, no matter how lively the environment is, loneliness will always linger. No matter how lively the environment is, loneliness will always linger. In the process of growing up, no matter how you turn out to be, you will at least have a period of such experience: to face yourself. But the real loneliness belongs to the upper level of human philosophy and religion. The Assassin Nie Yinniang is about holding on to your beliefs in a state where you are facing yourself. Nie Yinniang looks lonely and cold, but when you look at what she does, how she acts, she makes her own choices in the face of emotions, either at the behest of her master or for some social value.

A mature society should encourage mavericks, so that every kind of loner can find the value of existence. When the regime and the masses suppress these people, humanity cannot manifest itself, and we contribute our labor to this society, while sacrificing the plurality of life values!

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